wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Scones

I love to have a scone with my tea or coffee. They are small enough to be a tidbit, but big enough to fill the gap when it’s a while before dinner. Having scones on hand makes life easier if someone drops in and you don’t know what to serve as a “little something” with your beverage. Keep them in a ziploc in the freezer, and thaw for a few seconds in the microwave, and you’re all set.

I have a book of many scone recipes. I don’t particularly like any of them so I took the best of each and made up my own version.

All the dry ingredients go into the food processor:

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

3 Tbsp. sugar (which I forgot to put into this batch, but it turned out fine just the same)

Then add about 3/4 cup of butter and pulse the food processor until the butter is cut into the flour mixture evenly.

In a measuring cup, stir an egg with a fork and then add enough milk to make a cup. (At this point I also add, as part of that one cup of liquid, whatever I have on hand – yogurt, sour cream, or a squeeze of lemon or lime – just to get the baking soda working well). You may have to add a drop more liquid if you use sour cream or yogurt.

Pour in the liquid and give it a few pulses, add a handful of currants (or raisins, if you prefer), and pulse again. You don’t want to mash the currants so these go in last and are just barely mixed in.

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I dump out the dough onto a lightly floured board and smoosh it together into a rectangular lump. I fold the lump in half, press it down, fold it in half again and press it down, and maybe do it a third time. The main thing is not to knead or handle the dough too much.

Place the square of dough onto a buttered baking sheet and roll it to about 1/2 inch thickness with a rolling pin. Then cut it into about 24 pieces. Notice I use the word “about” a lot. If you want to make the scones come out with a nice glaze on top, this is a good time to brush egg on top. I’m usually too lazy.

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The recipes all say 425 degrees for half an hour but I found that this is too hot for too long. “About” 400 for 22 minutes was plenty for this batch, but you have to do what suits your oven’s quirkiness, and watch the time.

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Put the finished scones onto a cooling rack and then hurry to get the butter and the blackberry jam you made the other day. Try out your scones and then … try out another … and another. Enjoy.

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Who Needs Halloween Horror?

Just home from a 26-day trip, I had laundry to do. Too much to hang on the drying rack in front of the fire, and the outside clothesline was not an option in the rain. I would use the dryer.  I opened the dryer door and out fell my Halloween spook, a giant house spider, very much alive and probably a bit surprised to have been discovered. I presume that he crawled up the hose from the outside of the house and thought, “Aha! No one is home, so this is a perfect hangout for me.”

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These spiders look almost identical to the hobo spider which can do some damage if they bite you, but apparently the common giant house spider is harmless and will even kill the hobo spiders.

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I’m sorry I killed it, but it’s a reflex when I see a spider.

I just can’t take the time to catch them in a jar and turn them over to inspect their undersides with a magnifying glass (more trauma, up close) to see if it has a tiny circle of dots on the abdomen that would identify them as only a giant house spider, not a hobo spider. To me they are both terrifying to look at; and it’s even more terrifying to imagine them in my laundry.

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I felt guilty killing it. My mother always said not to kill spiders. She would sweep them into a dustpan with a tissue or just her hand (shudderzzzzz!!!!) and put them outside … so they could go and scare someone else  do some good.

I don’t need to go out on Halloween to get my scare. I can just stay home and do laundry.


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Thank you, Montana

It’s been a great trip. Emma is worn out from working (read “playing”) so hard. Now she’s reminiscing as she inhales the delicious (to her) aromas of the Captain’s Filson bird vest. It’s a good life.

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On the floor below her, Ruby snores and twitches as she dreams of birds she is chasing.

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It has been fun and good exercise. I’m happy that we didn’t run into any rattlesnakes, coyotes, porcupines, old farm equipment cuts, or serious barbed wire snags. We’ve been welcomed by the wonderful people of Montana and are looking forward to coming back next year.

Thank you, Montana.


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Pipeline or Railway?

When I see a long, long train of tankers carrying crude oil, I have the pipeline vs. railway argument with myself all over again. You can see that this train is in town. It stayed there for days.

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Right in the middle of the busy traffic area in town, this train and its load of oil products sat. Maybe it was empty, but I still wouldn’t have wanted to throw in a match.dscn6836a

When I have to stop at a railway crossing for one of these long fuel trains, I hope that this is not the time it will derail and barbecue me.dscn6884aCan you imagine if in the three or four days that this train sat without budging right in the middle of town, something had gone wrong — maybe a second train coming on the wrong track — what a disaster that could be? dscn6842a

I thought of the poor victims at Lac Megantic and wondered if maybe a pipeline really is a better solution. I don’t know, but these trains worry me.


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Writing Contest

For those of my wordsfromanneli followers who do not yet follow my annelisplace blog, I would like to invite you to go there to see the reminder of a writing contest I am having just for fun. It costs nothing and three winners will have a choice of one of four free e-books by Yours Truly, Anneli Purchase. Why not give it a try?

The story should relate in some way to the photo on that blog post. Please click the link to go to the post.

https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/reminder/

 


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Old Church

This old church stands on a bit of a rise at the side of the highway in a small, very small, Montana town. Isn’t it interesting how churches are often on a hill? I think there are three reasons for this: It can be seen by all and act as a reminder to come to church, the church can be seen as reaching towards God, and the nearby cemetery  is always well above the high water mark. dscn7040

The building is in the process of being restored. Some of the windows are boarded up where the panes have been broken. The main roof has a new skin of steel over it, but you can still see the original asphalt shingles on the steeple roof.

I wondered if the building was empty, so I put my camera up to one of the windows and took the photo below.

dscn7045Then it occurred to me that it was a church and the doors should always be open, so I went inside. The eight pews inside would hold 64 people if you squeezed in eight to a row, but more likely six to a row would be more comfortable for a maximum of 48 people. dscn7046In the back the piano still sits there. I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t an organ, even the old style of foot pedal organ, but at least they had music. The next thing I noticed was the very uncomfortable chair the pianist would have to use.

Not pictured, at the back of the room, some hymnals were boxed up, and I saw mention of the word Pentecostal. Maybe the denomination of the church was Pentecostal.
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I’m not a churchgoer, but for the sake of tradition and culture, I’m glad this building is being preserved.

***I may not be able to answer comments for a few days as I’ll be without Internet, but I will respond as soon as I get a connection. Please do leave your comments in the meantime and thanks for visiting.


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Montana Sunsets

“Come out of the trailer and see this amazing sunset!”

I scrambled for the camera and snapped up the sky quickly. I had learned that sunsets change from minute to minute. The neighbouring rig was in the photo but if I cropped him out I would lose some of that glorious sky.dscn7060_edited-1 dscn7061_edited-1These amazing sunsets and some of the sunrises are something I will miss when we go back home where hills take up more of the sky than the prairies do.

 


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Let them eat cake

Is this what they meant by “Little House on the Prairie”? Maybe this house is just a bit too little.

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Credit where credit is due, this photo was taken by the Captain with his little Fujipix. Photography is not his number one passion so I was surprised at the sky condition and general composition he captured.

We started to wonder about the little house. It has two windows and a door, so maybe someone, like a farmhand, might have lived in it temporarily. But maybe its main purpose was something else. I’ll never know the answer.

The present owner thinks it might date to around the 1930s. He said the previous owner used to put cake in it. We were a bit confused about that until we asked more about the cake. Apparently cake is what they call the pellets that are used to supplement the cattle feed in the winter.

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He said that when he was younger, raccoons used to visit this little house to eat the “cake” and then sleep in the attic. There was a small square cut out of the attic for access and it was a scary moment when the young fellow and his friends dared each other to stick their head up into the attic.

One thing I know for sure about this little house, is that the prevailing wind comes from the west.


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Sandhill Cranes – Predator’s Choice

It’s getting cold up in Saskatchewan, Canada. The sandhill cranes are on the move, by the hundreds, most likely by the thousands. I saw several huge flocks of them fly south over Montana yesterday, probably on their way to New Mexico, one of several places where they may overwinter.

dscn7081Sandhill cranes, when they’re not migrating, spend most of their time on the ground, eating mostly vegetation, but Wiki says they also feed on berries, small mammals, insects, snails, reptiles, and amphibians.

They are in constant danger of being predated upon. Foxes, coyotes, bobcats, cougar, and lynx are only a few of their most obvious predators but they are also in danger from ravens, hawks, owls, and eagles. It’s tough being a sandhill crane.

In the spring when they do their mating dance, they are beautiful to watch. I was lucky enough to have seen this firsthand in the Queen Charlotte Islands but at the time I had no camera with me.
dscn7088Since it is hard to see what they look like, when you can only see them silhouetted against the sky, I borrowed a picture from Wikipedia to show their colours. They are large birds with a height of from 2 ft. 7 in. to 4 ft. If you want to know their wingspan, just spread your arms as far apart as you can and you’d be pretty close.sandhill-crane

I made a very short (6 seconds) video clip as they flew over me. It’s not great footage but if you turn up the sound you can hear the distinctive call of the sandhill cranes.

 


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Ciabatta Bread

Even in the trailer for this road trip, when I wasn’t going to be doing much “domesticating,” I ended up baking bread. At home, I bake different kinds of bread but I wasn’t prepared to do that much work while on holiday. Still, a craving for that home-baked flavour grew until it could no longer be ignored. I found an easy solution. Ciabatta bread.

The oven in the trailer is not very big and had never been used. I could see why. If the bread rose very much it would bake onto the ceiling of the oven. It was chilly in the trailer too–tolerable but not ideal for dough to rise. Since ciabatta dough doesn’t need it to be toasty warm, just barely room temperature, and I had few ingredients, I decided that it was the perfect bread to try. It didn’t rise really high as a free-form loaf in the wide pan. Turned out perfect. The hardest part was lighting the gas oven without blowing up the trailer.dscn7110

Desperation recipe for ciabatta bread:

Remember that I faked and fudged it.

4 cups white flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. fast rising yeast

2 cups warm water

Stir until it forms a wet dough. Cover and set in a “warmish” place overnight.

In the morning, butter the baking pan and flop the dough into it, roughly shaping it into a loaf. Let it sit for an hour or two. Bake at 350 or 375 for about 40 minutes or until it is golden brown.

Cut off the heel tap and give it to the Captain. Cut another slice to give to your friend in the next RV rig.